'Now I can talk to my husband and his team from work about the economy, banking, marketing and people!' And as I applauded her for her risen self esteem and noticed that she had done her MBA even after having a baby, I began thinking why women who go to B school choose to do so and what it does for them.
Today's women are fortunate to have several role models in the corporate sector. In all fields - technology, innovation, education, media, government, role model women are taking up challenges and proving that their leadership is here to stay. However, there are still many who have to fight to go to school and fight even more to go back to higher education. It is time for women to realize that an investment in themselves is the only way to success. They have to stop waiting for the right moment or for someone to push them into this. Caring for yourself is a way to equip you for the future that will then help you care for others.
Despite all the efforts towards diversity, business schools still face a challenge in attracting more girls to the program. This is possibly because they see it only as a way of securing a corporate job which some of them are not sure that they want. However MBA programs will give them three strengths that are essential in any sphere of life.
First, it would help them gain access to knowledge that is needed in any business setting. Simple terminology can be intimidating if not heard before. Working relentlessly at a B school for 12 months will equip you to access information more easily whenever you may need it.
Secondly it would help them understand their own potential. Working in and leading teams may be something they have not experienced earlier. In a one year mba program they will get several opportunities for team work in a background of deadlines. This will raise their confidence and will also help them introspect and reflect about their own ambitions and potential in the workspace.
Finally a full time program at a leading business school for a leadership program will introduce them to people across industries. These interactions be it through mentors, guest speakers, faculty or peers will broaden their horizon. They will start appreciating the bigger picture and will also learn how to deal with different people differently.
After the b school, some may choose to join a banking career, others may choose to follow their passion in working with people and yet others may even go back to enjoying their home and children. Whatever the case may be, each of them will benefit from this kind of education and will have a more fulfilled life.
A recent study done by Caliper on women leaders talked of certain traits that women leaders have in common. These included assertiveness, empathy, energy and resilience. So women, go out there and bring your empathy and energy to the table while making sure you assert your rights and tolerate the stress that comes along with it! There is nothing to stop you from being the next Marissa Myers, Indira Nooyi or Sheryl Sandberg if you decide that's what you want to do and equip yourself for it!
From a macro standpoint too, the world would definitely be a better place if there were more women in the boardrooms and more men helping out at home!
By Kanu Priya Sekhri
(The author is senior faculty at SOIL and IIM Bangalore alumnus)
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